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Hospitals encourage precautions to avoid illness

November 9, 2021

On Nov. 3, the Colorado Hospital Association moved the state’s hospitals and health systems to their highest level of activation. The Combined Hospital Transfer Center (CHCT) has been moved to Tier 3 of a three-tier system to manage hospital capacity.

On the Western Slope, hospitals are feeling the strain. Garfield County hospitals routinely transfer patients to larger hospital systems when a higher level of care is needed. With near crisis-level bed capacities across the state, lower acuity patients are now being transferred in.

Dr. Kevin Coleman of Grand River Health noted that this is the first time he has witnessed patients being transferred into the Rifle hospital from areas outside of the county.

“Unfortunately, we are finding ourselves in the same situation as many Front Range hospitals regarding bed availability and hospital capacity,” he said. “We are partnering with all of our neighboring hospitals and working on how to best serve our communities and patients. Our providers have struggled to find timely placement for some individuals when care is needed.”

Garfield County Public Health has been informed that in some cases, patients with life-threatening conditions are waiting up to a full day to be seen or transferred to a facility that can provide the level of care needed. “Hospital capacity strains aren’t just affecting the Front Range. The issue is here on the Western Slope, too,” said Garfield County Public Health Nurse Sara Brainard.

Colorado’s hospitalizations are at the highest levels they have been all year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been called in to help with capacity issues in areas across the state where hospitals are especially full. Daily COVID-19 cases reported to Garfield County grew from 11 on Sept. 2 to nearly 30 by Nov. 2. Public health has updated its guidance for what to do if you feel sick.

“It’s never a good time to get sick,” added Brainard. “So, we all must do what we can to avoid the spread of germs and viruses. Do what you can to keep yourself out of the healthcare system: wash your hands, consider wearing a mask in crowded areas, and stay home if you feel ill. Look into getting your flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine, or booster to lessen the healthcare burden and keep space available for unpreventable emergencies.” Boosters, Pfizer for ages five to 11, and first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses are available at Garfield County Public Health COVID clinics.

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